What Makes a Happy Marriage?

Marriage appears to change the kind of support we need from our partners, according to a new study from Northwestern University. It seems that when we’re dating someone, happiness and satisfaction with the relationship depend on whether the other person supports our hopes and dreams. Once married, however, the focus seems to shift: While its still important for a person to support our aspirations, we now put a greater emphasis on commitment and whether a partner helps us fulfill our obligations and responsibilities.
This means “the feelings of being loved and supported that people use to judge who makes a good girlfriend or boyfriend may not be completely trustworthy in deciding who makes a good husband or wife. Those feelings may only partially capture the emotions that will determine your satisfaction with the person you marry,” says Daniel Molden, a psychologist at Northwestern and the study’s lead author.
“People planning to get married should think about not only how their partners support what they hope to achieve but also about how their partners support what they feel obligated to accomplish. We could end up with both happier marriages and more satisfied people in general.”
The study will be published in the July issue of Psychological Science. —Heather Wax

Category: Positive Psychology

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